What is the origin of terrorism


1. Definition

Terrorism (T.), from the Latin term "terror" = "horror", is a form of political → extremism. Through the systematic use of violence, especially against selected representatives of the "system", the "ruling class" should be made insecure and the "oppressed class" should be mobilized - e.g. B. by the fact that the state overreacts with its defense mechanisms. In a democratic constitutional state like D, however, the population showed solidarity with the political leadership, not with their militant opponents, because of the acts of violence. The T. is in fact an expression of the political isolation of revolutionary minorities. There is essentially a communicative dimension inherent in it. Although right-wing and left-wing terrorism have different goals, the act of terrorism plays such a dominant role that the political guidelines are irrelevant. In contrast to some other countries, the T. in D does not feed on social deficits. Significantly, the majority of terrorists come from an upscale social milieu. While secessionist and "vigilantist" ("vigilante justice" to maintain "peace and order") forms of T. played no role, the threat in D from the international Islamist T. has increased. Science agrees that monocausal attempts to explain a highly complex phenomenon like the T. do not get caught. The biographical method as a kind of integration concept is likely to be of particular importance.

2. The history of T. in Germany

The roots of the T. in D lie in the student movement of the second half of the 1960s. This has influenced → society in a striking way. This also includes the development of a terrorist subculture. The various international links, for example with Palestinian organizations, are partly in the dark. In 1970 the establishment of a "Red Army Faction" (RAF) began. Their leading figures (including A. Baader, G. Ensslin, H. Mahler and U. Meinhof) were soon caught. The climax of the T. was in 1977 with the murders of the Federal Public Prosecutor S. Buback, the board spokesman of the Deutsche Bank, J. Ponto, as well as the employer president HM Schleyer and his companions - carried out by a "second generation of terrorists" (cf. Wunschik 1997). After the myth-shrouded "German autumn" of 1977 - Baader, Ensslin and Raspe committed suicide in Stammheim as a reaction to the intransigence of the state, pretending to be murder - spectacular actions subsided somewhat, although acts of terrorism by so-called "revolutionary cells" increased and in the 80s Murders of political and economic representatives of the "system" did not fail to materialize. The last attack hit the President of the → Treuhandanstalt D. K. Rohwedder on April 1, 1991. In 1993 the new prison building in Weiterstadt was blown up (property damage: well over 100 million DM). Little is known about the "third generation of terrorists" due to the low number of successful searches. The most spectacular was achieved in Bad Kleinen in 1993: a terrorist was arrested and a terrorist committed suicide. T. in the FRG had remained largely a left-wing terrorism for a long time. The attempts at imitation on the extreme right in the first half of the 1980s - such as the "Hepp-Kexel Group" - failed to achieve a comparable "success". The xenophobic excesses, especially in the first half of the 1990s, can hardly be classified as T. in the strict sense; they lack planning intensity and systematics. These were the characteristics of the actions of a "militant group" that had carried out around 25 arson attacks from 2001 on, mainly in the Berlin area (with letters of self-denunciation). At the beginning of November 2011 ten murders by a small right-wing extremist group ("National Socialist Underground") were known, which they had committed between 2000 and 2007, mainly of people with a migration background. Since no letters of self-accusation were circulating, the motivation of the perpetrators was a mystery to the security authorities. The public shock was great. These crimes, facilitated by mistakes by the police and the protection of the constitution, represented a dimension in the realm of the real T. Nevertheless, the word from the "Brown Army Fraction", which suggests a parallel to the RAF, is inappropriate.

3. Perspectives

The almost worldwide collapse of "real socialism" meant a turning point for T. in D too. In 1990 it became known that eight terrorists had found refuge in the → GDR in the first half of the 1980s. Most of these "second generation" ex-terrorists were prepared to make extensive statements. The underground command level of the RAF spoke of a "caesura" not least because of the global political situation and announced several times (1992/94) that the "armed struggle" would be suspended, indirectly admitting its weakness, even its failure. In April 1998 the RAF announced its dissolution in a letter. This was the consequence of the isolation of the terrorist group in the left-wing extremist milieu as well. The story of the RAF was the story of its failure. Today there are no longer any terrorists in prison. Again and again there are public disputes even after the end of the T. The issue continues to stir up.

The International Islamist T. has been a particular challenge for a number of years, even if D is widely regarded as a retreat rather than an area of ​​operations. The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 by the Islamist Al-Qaeda also changed the security situation in D. The reservoir for terrorist networks is fed by immigrants and converts. A particular danger in Germany is the radical Islamic network of Salafists with over 2,500 followers. D has developed a variety of strategies to combat this form of T. (cf. Urban 2006).


Aust, Stefan 2008: The Baader Meinhof Complex. Completely revised and supplemented new edition. Hamburg.

Kraushaar, Wolfgang 2006: The RAF and left-wing terrorism, 2 vols. Hamburg.

Peters, Butz 2004: Deadly Error. The RAF in Germany. Frankfurt a. M.

Schäuble, Martin 2011: Jihadists. Field research in the milieus. Berlin.

Sontheimer, Michael 2010: Of course you can shoot. A Brief History of the Red Army Faction. Munich.

Straßner, Alexander 2003: The third generation of the "Red Army Fraction". Creation, structure, functional logic and disintegration of a terrorist organization. Wiesbaden.

Urban, Johannes 2006: The fight against international Islamist terrorism. Wiesbaden.

Wunschik, Tobias 1997: Baader-Meinhof's children. The second generation of the RAF. Opladen.

Source: Andersen, Uwe / Wichard Woyke (ed.): Concise dictionary of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany. 7th, updated Aufl. Heidelberg: Springer VS 2013. Author of the article: Eckhard Jesse